Luxuriant Goes Back to Back

Date: 6 Jul 2024

Luxuriant Goes Back to Back

Successful in three of her last four starts, Luxuriant (6 m Iffraaj – Opulent, by Keeper) rose in grade to win the $17,000 Ashhurst Deer and Duck Inn Rating 75 1200 metres on 5 July at Awapuni.

Having secured the 160th victory this season for Te Akau trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson, when sprouting wings from back in the field to win the Rating 65 1200 metres at the same venue on 21 June, Luxuriant has now also collected the 166th victory for the premiership leading trainers.

Racing in career best form, and with leading rider Warren Kennedy remaining in the saddle, Luxuriant followed a similar pattern to her last start course victory. Given time to find her feet behind a competitive tempo, she was nine lengths astern at the 600m but picked up with plenty of gusto approaching the home turn and always had pacemaker Lincoln’s Kruz in her sights.

Going away to win by three-quarters of a length at the line, Luxuriant ran 1200 metres in 1:10.7 on the poly track, having clocked 1:10.0 for the same distance there previously, and justified favouritism to pay $2.35 on the NZ TAB fixed odds. 

“It was another very good win today, as it’s always hard to step up from Rating 65 to Rating 75 grade, and she ended up beating a horse (Lincoln’s Kruz) that had won seven races including a stakes' race,” Walker said.

“She’s getting on beautifully with Warren (Kennedy). He was patient and looked to ride her as though he knew what he had beneath him.

“They went at breakneck speed and she was out in time with the momentum over the last 100 metres, so it was really good to see.

“The owners have been so patient with her, because she just struggled to win a race there for awhile, but now she’s racing really well and it’s not easy to keep going up in grades and win like she has.

“It shows that she’s full of confidence, and I’d also like to give a mention of ‘Poppy the pony’ that travels everywhere with her and lives in the same box as her at home. 

“Since we started doing that with Luxuriant, she’ just like a different horse. So I think that has helped her immensely in this preparation, just having that little pony living in the box with her and travelling to the races. It just seems to keep her in the zone, mentally.”

Owned by Te Akau Opulent Syndicate, Luxuriant was bred by the syndicate who raced her dam Opulent.  Opulent was bought by David Ellis CNZM from Cambridge Stud at 2013 NZB Premier Sale at Karaka and Te Akau-trained to win three races and finish fifth at Group Three level.

Of Opulent, Ellis said: “She is from one of the best families in the studbook, a beautiful filly, with plenty of strength and great balance.

“The second dam is by Nijinsky (Northern Dancer) and family includes Group One winners: Redoute’s Choice, Platinum Scissors, Manhattan Rain, Umatilla, and Hurricane Sky. 

“Keeper (Danehill) is a great sire of fillies and we had already trained a NZB Filly of the Year by Keeper, Insouciant.”

Another family member was purchased for $1.9 million at Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast, while the dam of Opulent, Silk Slipper (Woodman), was retired through injury after finishing second at her only start.

Sir Patrick Hogan (then Cambridge Stud owner) previously recalled: “I bought her dam, Dancing Show (Nijinsky), in foal to Thunder Gulch (Gulch), which I sold for $1.2 million at the Sydney sale, and bred her to Woodman to produce Silk Slipper and then to Danehill to get Dane Dancer. 

“Opulent was a special foal. She was also a special type of yearling when she went through the ring at the sales. Right from the start, she was a very good-looking and smart filly.” 

Also out of Opulent, the same syndicate has bred stable-mates Plenty O’ Style and Class, both by Embellish (Savabeel). Three-year-old Plenty O’ Style was an easy Maiden winner over 1600 metres in March at Riccarton, while year younger Class was trial placed in March before spelling. 

They also have a yearling filly in the stable by Eminent (Frankel), named Elopement. 

Luxuriant carries a Mr. Prospector cross on the sire line of Iffraaj and dam line of Opulent, as sire of grand-dam sire Woodman. She also has bloodline crosses to Northern Dancer and Secretariat. 

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